Tax Hacks 2014: 5 Ways to Get Free Help With Tax Prep

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Americans spend an average of $261 to get an itemized federal and state tax return done. Check out these tips to get free help with your return this year.

Tax season is upon us, and tax return preparers have already opened their doors to those looking to be the first to file when the Internal Revenue Service begins accepting returns on Jan. 31.

But professional tax preparation can come at a hefty price. The National Society of Accountants says the average cost to prepare a 1040 tax form with itemized deductions and a state tax return is $261, while the cost of preparing a non-itemized 1040 and state return is $152.

Looking to save money on tax return preparation this year?  Money Talks News money expert Stacy Johnson offers some tips on how to get your taxes done without spending a dime. Watch the video below and continue reading for more information.

1. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program

If your annual income is $52,000 or less, you may qualify for free basic tax return preparation and e-filing from IRS-certified volunteers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. The preparers can make sure you don’t miss valuable tax credits you qualify for, such as the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.

VITA centers are located throughout the U.S. and can be found by entering your five-digit ZIP code in the Locator Tool. You can also call (800) 906-9887 to find a nearby location. Before paying them a visit, be sure to gather all the required paperwork. If at all possible, try scheduling an appointment months prior to the April 15 deadline to avoid the last-minute rush.

2. Tax Counseling for the Elderly

The IRS’ Tax Counseling for the Elderly or TCE program provides IRS-certified volunteers through AARP and other organizations to help people 60 and older prepare their taxes and to answer any tax-related questions about pensions and retirement plans.

To find the site nearest you, visit the AARP website and search by your address or county. You can also call a toll-free line at (888) 227-7669.

3. IRS Free File

Maybe you don’t qualify for assistance through VITA because your income is too high. You may still be able to prepare and e-file your federal return through IRS Free File using tax preparation software from companies that have partnered with the IRS. But that’s only if your income does not exceed $58,000. Participating companies include H&R Block, TurboTax, Free File Alliance and TaxAct.

The free editions are best for first-time filers or those with simple returns. State returns can usually be completed at a nominal rate of somewhere between $10 and $30. And be sure to get things right the first time and save a backup copy once the return is complete, as these companies will assess a fee to amend a return or reprint forms from a prior year.

4. IRS Free Fillable forms

The IRS Free File program also offers a Fillable Form component that you can use to prepare and file your tax return online free of charge, regardless of your annual income. Unfortunately, this option does not offer any on-screen assistance or state return filing options, unlike the software programs.

5. IRS resources

There’s always that good old-fashioned help that’s just a phone call or office visit away. If your tax return preparation efforts turn into an absolute nightmare, search for your nearest IRS branch and give them a call or make a trip to help alleviate your stress and receive the guidance you need. Don’t want to leave home? Head on over to IRS.gov to search for answers to all your tax questions. It’s free.

Keep in mind that complex tax returns should be prepared by a knowledgeable professional; cutting corners could cost you more money in the end. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on more of Stacy’s tax hacks. Next Wednesday, we’ll be covering tips to avoid a tax audit.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: What You Should Do — and Not Do — When Meeting a New Dog

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,043 more deals!